Thursday, March 6, 2008

Knightwind Ensemble Upcoming Concert - Part 2

In the last post I mentioned a few of the pieces on the Knightwind Ensemble's upcoming concert Heroes, on Sunday April 6th at 3 PM. In this post, I'll write about the feature piece by Jan van der Roost: Sinfonia Hungarica.

The History of Hungary

Sinfonia Hungarica is a three movement symphony written in celebration of Hungary's millennium, celebrated in 2001. It's premiere took place on March 31, 2001 in Budapest, performed by the Symphonic Band Kinskunfelegyhaza (the commissioning band) and was conducted by the composer. The three movements were inspired by key historical figures, wars, and other important events. It is, literally, a history of Hungary set to music.

Unfortunately, because only the last two of the three movements of the symphony were available, the Ensemble will not be able to perform the first movement, based on Attila, the King of the Huns. For the record, the movement is characterized by fear, threat, aggression, and cruelty. The exciting ending illustrates the speed of Attila's army, as they pursued their victims and killed them. One might also argue that music based on Attila the Hun should not appear on a concert dedicated to Heroes. However, I'm sure this exciting music will turn up on a future concert.

The Ensemble will perform the second movement, which focuses on Arpad, the founder of the Hungarian State. It begins in a dreamlike state, evoking his grandmother Emese, who dreamed of his future destination. One of Arpad's opponents, the Bulgarian Prince Zalan, was chased away after a fight. After this, Arpad officially named the territory Magyarorszag.

The final movement is named after Istvan, the King of Hungary who introduced Christianity into Hungary, and who was crowned by Pope Silvestro II on January 1, 1001. A solemn start leads to a war-like passage ending in loud crashes. This symbolizes the fact that the body of the pagan Koppany was cut into four pieces and sent to the four castles of the country as an example. After a quiet intermezzo, the National Hymn of Hungary is introduced. This broad gradioso ending also has a symbolic meaning: after 10 centuries, Hungary has many reasons to look back on its past with pride, and to look to the future with optimism and confidence.

It should be noted that the national hymn actually appears throughout the entire symphony. It is used as a thread, often hidden or partially hidden, hardly recognizable at the beginning and becoming more and more obvious near the end. It concludes the symphony as a final apotheoisis, making the band sound like a majestic living organ.

Even though this piece is very difficult, it is very listenable. The Ensemble is rehearsing the piece very hard, and the results are amazing. You will enjoy this piece. Again, Heroes will be presented on Sunday April 6th at 3 PM in the Schwan Concert Hall on the campus of Wisconsin Lutheran College. For more information, see the Knightwind Ensemble web site:

And Don't Forget

The Milwaukee Festival Brass performs on Sunday March 16th at 3 PM, also in the Schwan Concert Hall, featuring Irish music. It is guaranteed to be great fun! And don't forget to bring a non-perishable food item to donate to the Hunger Task Force!

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